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Fredericksburg resident Bill Dyal has traveled the world through his work with relief agencies.
ABOVE: Bill Dyal (left) visited with a peasant farmer or 'campesino' in Guatemala.
Photos courtesy of BILL DYAL
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Dyal started as a Southern Baptist missionary, working in Central and South American countries. He and his wife learned fluent Spanish in Costa Rica, and he'll always remember the people for their kindness.
The Dyals made lots of friends and still get letters from families there, more than 50 years later.
"That's one of the nice things about living in so many places," he said. "We have friends all over the world."
The Dyals came stateside to work on civil-rights issues in the mid-1960s. Dyal got more disenchanted with what he calls the "narrowing views" of the church and mentioned this to Bill Moyers, an old friend from Texas.
That's the same Bill Moyers who had been deputy director of the Peace Corps and press secretary for Lyndon B. Johnson. The same Bill Moyers whose work in journalism would become known worldwide.
One conversation between two friends from Texas started Dyal on another career path.
From 1967 to 1986, Dyal left his mark on several worldwide relief agencies. He directed all the Peace Corps volunteers in Colombia, then in all of North Africa, the Near East and South Asia.
He humbly mentions that the board from Inter-American Foundation called him about being the new group's founding president in 1971. Congress wanted a new agency to work people-to-people, instead of government-to-government, and Dyal was the man picked to lead it.
Employees in practically every other relief agency in Washington "resented the hell out of Bill," Vetter said, because Congress took money from their programs to fund his.
But he made the new agency, with a new mission, work.
"To make a long story short, Bill Dyal had the vision, the creativity and the diplomatic skills to use that money to produce incredible results," Vetter said.
Dyal built the new agency from the ground up, according to an article in Grassroots Development, the journal of the Inter-American Foundation.
Its January 2005 journal celebrated the 35th anniversary of the program. More than one-third of the pages in the journal were earmarked "The Dyal Years" and praised the programs he created, many of which are still going strong decades later.
"Most of the major foundations talk the talk of supporting grass-roots and community development, but few come close to working the way Bill envisioned the IAF," stated one article, titled "Bill Dyal's Long Shadow."'He has this wonderful way'